Truly I tell you, no one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold.” (Mark 10:29)
When the rich young man walked away from Jesus sorrowfully, Peter recalled how he left his fishing business (with its hopes and promises of a comfortable life), how Matthew left his tax collection business, how James and John left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and how the other disciples also left family and possessions to follow Jesus. Then, finally, he exclaimed: “Behold, we have left everything to follow you.”
In his response, Jesus assured Peter that he had not made a wrong choice. As Jesus puts it, no one who has left anything behind for the sake of the Gospel will go unrewarded. In truth, serving God requires many sacrifices, but as long as our sufferings help advance God’s kingdom, we shall certainly not miss our reward.
In one of His parables, Jesus described the kingdom of God as a refined pearl which a man found buried in a field, and he went and sold all he had to buy that field. Serving God demands much letting go. St. Paul writes to the Philippians: “For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8).
The book of Sirach today speaks of the beauty of giving and offering sacrifices to God. It says: “Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed… glorify the Lord generously… with every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Please give to the Most High as he has given and as generously as your hand has found. For the Lord is the one who repays and will repay you sevenfold.” (Sirach 35:4-11).
In as much as there is a reward for our gifts and sacrifices on God’s behalf, the book of Sirach is quick to warn: “Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.” (Sirach 35:12).
You may wonder, what gifts would God find most acceptable today? Time spent in prayer, fasting especially from sin, and alms to the poor around us. These are great sacrifices, and they are never without their reward.
Let us pray: Our heavenly Father, teach us to love you more than everything this world can provide. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Ecclesiasticus 35:2-15, Ps. 50:5-8,14,23, Mark 10:28-31)*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu